Skip to main content

Full text of "NightRider"

See other formats

was getting old, perhaps. He must be getting on to seventy,
But his attitude seemed something different from the tired-
ness and scepticism of age. Perhaps you could only get to
be like Captain Todd if you lived through some firm con-
viction, some enveloping confidence, some time in your life;
that is, if you were stout enough to come out on the other
side of it afterward and still be yourself. Mr. Munn remem-
bered that somebody sometime had told him how Captain
Todd once down in South Tennessee held a ford on a frozen
creek all night and half a day with just forty or fifty men
against a couple of companies of Yankee cavalry. That must
have been in the last winter of the war when Hood was trying
to get what was left of his army out of Tennessee. Anybody
ought to have seen then that everything was folding up, going
to pieces. But Captain Todd and his men had lain out there
in the brush and rocks all night, waiting for the next rush at
the ford; and all the next morning, too, when it got light
enough to see how many there were on the other side and
how,many more were coming up. Once or twice Mr. Munn
wondered about those other men with Captain Todd, those
who weren't killed at the ford or later, and who lived on—had
they, when they got old, grown to be like Captain Todd,
too? Or had they, that night at the ford, been sustained,
not by a conviction and confidence truly their own, but
merely by partaking for the time, communally, from the
rich and fundamental store owned by somebody else? By
Captain Todd?

But now Captain Todd sat among the other men, aware, it
seemed, of a ripe, secret security that he could count on, out
of the swirl and reach of the general excitement, supported
by a confidence different from the confidence in events and
circumstances that would be subject to change and accident
and the casual appetites and weaknesses of people. He was
like a great grey boulder, still unsubmerged, in the course of
some violent, flooded stream. You knew that when the flood
season was past and the waters had lost their turbulence and
had shrunk back into their normal and modest bed, the